Majid Khan was the quintessential Pakistani player of the bygone age. He was charismatic, elegant, gifted and brave. Majid weaved his magic with the cricket bat in an era of great fast bowlers, and his achievements secured his reputation as one of the country's greatest opening batsmen. It didn't matter if the challenge was from a 95 mph thunderbolt from Michael Holding, or a medium-pitched delivery from a lowly county bowler - Majid would play both with the same artistic flair and the air of a man that did not seem to be trying.
Majid came from one of Pakistan's greatest cricketing families; his cousins Javed Burki and Imran Khan both captained the country, with Imran going on to become perhaps Pakistan's most celebrated cricketer. Majid held his own in this illustrious family. He is one of only four batsmen to score a Test century before lunch, was the first Pakistani to score an ODI century, and once hit 13 sixes in an innings against Glamorgan.
His strokeplay brought Majid the admiration of some of his most formidable contemporaries. Dennis Lillee, the great Australian fast bowler, held Majid in high esteem. Lillee once narrated a tale about a bet he had had with him. Majid used to don an antiquated round hat during the first half of his career, the only element of inelegance when he was at the crease. Lillee decided to take it upon himself to knock the hat off of Majid's head, perhaps he too felt that such a vulgar adornment did not belong on the gracefully poised Majid. When Majid learned this, he offered Lillee his treasured hat, if he could indeed dislodge it.
It finally happened at the Sydney Cricket Ground a few years later. Lillee bowled a vicious bouncer, and the ball just managed to brush the hat, setting it askew and the laws of Newton did the rest. True to his word, Majid picked up the hat, strode over to Lillee and handed it to him without hesitation. This gesture was in harmony with Majid's sense of fairplay. He was a known walker, and an ardent adherent of the set of ethics known collectively as the Spirit of the Game".
The romanticism surrounding Majid's cricket has little to do with statistics and records. It is rooted in a more aesthetic appreciation of the game. His legacy is enhanced by the fact that Pakistan has not produced players of his ilk for decades now. One can only wade through nostalgic footage from the 60s and 70s and take delight in his unhurried shots.
As for the hat, Lillee claims to have had it whole for many years, until his wife decided it needed a wash and put it in the washing machine. It didn't take long for it to fall to pieces, losing its shape and structure completely. Despite the little mishap, Lillee still keeps remains of the hat along with all the other awards and honours he has acquired during his distinguished career, in tribute not only to a great player, but a great person.
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Haider Riaz is a Physics and Computer Science student at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. His exposure to the modern game is limited, but he is an enthusiast of the history of the game, particularly the Packer era. He often looks back to Pakistan's golden era in the 70s and 80s, comprising of Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and the great Imran Khan.
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